ranchhorsehalterclass

Conformation for Western Pleasure

I have a question about the proper conformation for a candidate for a Western Pleasure horse,ie, mainly the neck. I have been told by some that the neck needs to come out of the shoulders fairly high so ...I have a question about the proper conformation for a candidate for a Western Pleasure horse,ie, mainly the neck. I have been told by some that the neck needs to come out of the shoulders fairly high so ...

Story originally posted by: Maggie FlowersHorseCity.com Training Director

Hi Maggie,

I have a question about the proper conformation for a candidate for a Western Pleasure horse, ie, mainly the neck. I have been told by some that the neck needs to come out of the shoulders fairly high so that the horse can use his shoulders properly. Another trainer said that the neck should come out of the shoulders low. Now I know that it would make sense to have the neck hung on low for these lower headed horses, but what about movement if they can’t get their head and shoulders up? I would appreciate your comments.

Sincerely,
C. Ross

Hello Cindy,

The conformation wants in a Western Pleasure horse are within the eye of the beholder. By professional standards and what most judges normally look for:

BODY: Balanced-every part of his body appears to be the correct size and shape in relation to the other parts, and all the parts join smoothly together.

HEAD: Attractive-well-shaped, with alert ears. An expressiveness while just standing will be a real eye-catcher on the rail; large eyes that will tell the judge that he is a pleasure to be around and ride.

NECK: one that just hangs out in front of him, easily be able to carry it level, if there’s a slight thickness to the neck it should not impede his movement or the way he carries himself.

BACK: Too long a back may affect his movement the, extra length could make it difficult for him to drive deeply under his body with his hind legs. He needs that drive to produce a slow, balanced lope. It should be a strong back one with no emphatic dip or hollow.

HIPS/HOCKS: Judges tend to look for fairly long hips with good set to his hocks. Hocks should be a little low to the ground and under his body; their correct placement could help compensate for any lack of drive resulting from the length of his back.

CONDITION: Neither thin nor fat. Judges dislike a thin pleasure horse, but too much weight can inhibit athletic ability. Solid, well defined muscles a very big plus.

Along with all of these conformation tips, the most important part is the headset. A correctly conformed prospect who is schooled in a proven set of basics will gradually develop a headset that is comfortable and natural for him. It’s a position of carriage that complements the horse’s conformation and allows him to balance and move smoothly. He should look confident, relaxed and soft in the bridle–not resistant and forced to hold his head in a particular position.

Good luck in this coming year’s shows!

Maggie Flowers